Creationism and Evolution — Bill HB258 Denied

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

This bill would enable public school teachers who teach kindergarten through 12th grade to include, as a portion of instruction regarding the scientific origins of man and the Earth, instruction regarding the Biblical theory of creation, so long as evolution is also taught. This bill would further allow any teacher who desires to instruct students regarding the Biblical theory of creation to read passages from the Bible in class which he or she deems necessary to propel the instruction forward. This bill would allow a student receiving instruction on both the Biblical theory of creation and evolution to make a determination as to which theory to accept. A student would be permitted credit on course exams if he or she chooses to adhere to the Biblical theory of creation instead of evolution and then answers exam questions according to that system of belief.

The United States of America state of Alabama attempted to pass a bill for the teaching of creationism. The curricula would include creationism alongside evolution. Creationism tends to come in three forms.

One is Young Earth Creationism with the world, humans, and everything in it no older than 10,000 years. Some room for variation in the age. Another group is Old Earth Creationist. Those who believe everything got divinely breathed into life by God. Big difference is the age factor, hence “Old.”

They believe in the 4.54-billion-year-old Earth. Same assertion but also partial acceptance of the evidence. The main inspiration coming from the Bible plus acceptance of modern geology but not modern biology.

Another is Intelligent Design. Often, unfairly, it gets lumped with Old Earth Creationism and Young Earth Creationism with the media portrayals as “Creationism.”

It amounts to, in one view, in part a religious argument and, in another view, in part an information-based argument with the research programme oriented towards detection of design in nature through, for example, finding irreducible complexity.

Each of the three have nuances. However, the general critique stands because all three as strands stand in part or whole against modern unguided biological evolution accpeted by the vast majority of practicing biologists for the explanation of the development, growth, and speciation of species.

Modern biological evolution remains unguided. Some choose to assert a Theistic Evolution view. God used evolution to create “Mankind,” in essence. The majority of practicing biologists, especially the elite ones, accept unguided evolution. It becomes the bedrock for modern biological sciences, so one foundation for modern medicine too.

In a sociological analysis of the groups, these seem to have similar problems as the New Atheist movement. The Intelligent Design demographics seem, for the most part, to be white Christian males with a sprinkling of an atheist or agnostic in the mix.

The New Atheist demographics lean heavily towards white males with some ex-Muslims males. However, the majority remain white males. In Alabama’s House, Bill 258 was not accepted. It would teach creation theory as interpreted and asserted through the Bible to students.

This battle continues back as a war for decades, especially in the school system. Some religious parents resent public schools for teaching modern evolutionary theory to their children.

They would prefer creationism taught to their children. Because the literalist interpretation of their religious holy text and community demands it. The bill, Bill 258 in the Alabama House, “died in committee on March 29, 2018.

The legislature adjourned sine die to the benefit of standard biological sciences curricula.Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.177 was a Kentucky law used to create the HB 258 bill.

158.177 was enacted in 1976. It is noted by NCSE as unconstitutional. Steve Hurst (R-District 35) was the sole supporter. Hurst has been known for “previous proposals to require public school teachers to read a daily prayer in the classroom and to punish sex offenders with surgical or chemical castration.”

Writing at PLoS’s SciComm blog (February 19, 2018), Amanda Glaze — a native of Alabama now teaching at Georgia Southern University — decried HB 258, arguing, “Legislation that conflates empirical scientific evidence with evidence derived from religious texts can seriously harm efforts to improve science literacy.”

References

Kentucky Government. (2018). 158.177 Teaching of evolution — Right to include Bible theory of creation. Retrieved from http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Statutes/statute.aspx?id=3462.

National Center for Science Education. (2018, April 2). Creationism bill dies in Alabama. Retrieved from https://ncse.com/news/2018/04/creationism-bill-dies-alabama-0018734.

Organ, J. (2018, February 19). Opinion: We’re at War for Science Literacy, Not Against Faith. Retrieved from http://blogs.plos.org/scicomm/2018/02/19/opinion-were-at-war-for-science-literacy-not-at-war-with-faith/.

Representative Hurst. (2018, January 18). HB258. Retrieved from http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/searchableinstruments/2018RS/bills/HB258.htm.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.